Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

# 49. They think that no one will take them on

Mission financial crisis accomplished!

“Stiffing” is a common term in the software industry meaning “charging like a bull” when you have your customers “over a barrel”.

This month, one of my legal software providers was taken over by a larger software company which immediately notified me of a 300% increase in my payments. I made email complaint to the CEO and he called me to say that he would be upset too, if he were me. Having unexpectedly achieved solidarity with the CEO, I tried to understand his position which seemed to be that the increase would encourage me to pay even more to buy his full package, leading to savings for my practice and making Queensland small legal firms more efficient.

I wanted to explain to him that when rubbed up the wrong way Queensland solicitors can be an ill-tempered, quarrelsome, truly disagreeable bunch and I do not say that just because I am married to one. I wondered if other Queensland solicitors were ready to understand the subtle potential benefits of what felt like a software company marching into Queensland and launching an unprovoked attack.

I had to ask myself the 3 questions that I put to my own clients when reacting to an injustice: “Is it really worth it?”, “What are the chances of a quick victory?” and “Who has the most to lose?”.

As much as I would usually try to reason with clients who disregarded the answers to questions 1 and 2, the fact that the answers in my case were “No” and “Not Great” did not bother me one bit once I realized that the infidel invader had much more to lose.

The mission statement of the larger software company which I shall call “X”, no doubt, is to love and respect its customers and not to wind them up, even though its customer base are lawyers. I suspect that this increase or surge as it may come to be known, must be the action of some fresh faced chancer working in the X Sales Department, greedy for a quick killing over Christmas and ignorant of the consequences for the X brand of this apparent breach of the trust built up by its predecessor over the years.

Days passed without any apparent reaction. I conducted several internet searches:
“Queensland solicitors taken advantage of”, “….squeezed”, “…… shafted”, “…screwed”.
The result for each search was “nil” and I began to worry that my searches were giving me an unwelcome insight into my own psyche rather than any useful information on the impending jihad.

The letter advising of the increase arrived just before the Christmas holiday and the bad news had been “buried” on the 2nd page. However, as contracts were due for renewal on 31 December 2008 I assume that shortly, things will hit the fan.

Should things not hit the fan, I suggest that we all increase our fees by 300%. If we cannot beat the financial crisis-let’s help expand it.

This is an extract from the free “Law & Disorder” Ezine which can be subscribed to at Paul Brennan is a solicitor practicing on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and author of “The Law for IT Professionals”.

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